Lake Elsinore, California — On July 21, 32-year-old Lake Elsinore resident Morgan Delos Fowler was sentenced to more than 215 years in state prison for sexual assaults targeting nearly 20 people in Lake Elsinore and Wildomar.
In June, he pleaded guilty to 18 felony counts, including forcible rape of a minor, lewd acts on a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child and forcible sodomy, along with sentence-enhancing allegations of targeting multiple victims in a sex crime.
Fowler's abuses spanned more than a decade where he targeted teenage girls and at least one transgender adult, all while he worked as a scare actor and host at haunted mazes and events across Southern California, including Lake Elsinore Storm Stadium's "Field of Screams," "Sinister Pointe" in Orange County, and others of his own design.
According to his victims, the haunted venues were his favored hunting grounds to seduce the vulnerable, some as young as 14-years-old, only to groom them into submissive members of his would-be sex cult. Fowler hid behind his creepy clown persona "Trixter" to share his plans of building a masochistic society where he was the leader, victims told Patch.
During his July 21 sentencing hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Fowler was forced to listen to six victim impact statements — the young people survived his clutches and were there to face him in the courtroom.
Three of those victims spoke with Patch afterward. Their names have been abbreviated to protect their identities as they begin the next chapter of their lives.
KD: First to tell, last to forget
KD arrived at the sentencing hearing alone. The oldest of Fowler's victims, KD had met Fowler outside San Diego's Comic-Con convention in 2018.
"Morgan was dressed as Trixter, his clown persona and was scaring crowds of people," KD told Patch. "I went and talked to him, as I was a clown in my free time. He shared his card and we began talking. He was one of the first people who cared about my gender and being trans and would stand up for me. No one had ever done that before."
That Halloween, they worked at a haunt together at Sinister Pointe Haunted House in Aliso Viejo. The haunt was the start of their relationship, KD said. Soon after, Fowler insisted they live in his home. Then, began the descent into psychological torment and physical indignities suffered at his hands.
"I'll come right out and say it, Morgan was the leader of a sex cult," KD said. "He had so many people in his control. There were contracts and rules that everyone had to follow and things people had to do and say."
He wanted them sexually ready at his will and was ready to punish those who did not obey.
"He called us a 'family.' The people who lived there revolved around him like the sun. He confided in me that his biggest dream was to be the mayor of a town where there were no laws about sex. I began to worry for the young teens who went to buy weed from him." KD told the courtroom.
It took seven months to leave Fowler's home, but never felt truly safe. "I gathered evidence I had and called the Lake Elsinore police."
The first to call authorities, KD said the tip went nowhere.
"The police went to the house, talked to the people there and used (my full name). No one knew me that way. No one spoke up. The cops implied I was an angry ex who just wanted revenge," KD read in the victim impact statement. "I was worried for my safety. He knew where I lived. The justice system failed me that day."
Eight months later in August 2019, after more evidence and a lengthy investigation, Fowler was finally arrested.
"I didn't know I was the first to reach out to the police," KD said. "I told them I was reporting Morgan because I was worried about the people in the house. I was worried about them being beaten."
Holli F.: Amassing the followers, breaking the chains
Holli F. was just 17 years old and a Temecula-area high school student when she stepped into the Lake Elsinore Storm Stadium Field Of Screams haunted house. She had hopes of working there to earn the volunteer hours needed to graduate high school. There, she met Fowler, forever changing her life.
What started as a relentless pursuit by an older man ended with her feeling lost, alone and broken, she said.
"He groomed me for his own sick purposes," Holli F. said. "He gained my trust, found my insecurities and targeted them. He tried to force loyalty on me by breaking me, but I did not break."
Holli F. likens her experience to that of victims of convicted singer R. Kelly, the back and forth, returning to psychological sexual abuse. It took helping another teen caught in Fowler's web to gain the courage to escape.
"I couldn't leave until I knew AJ was safe," Holli F. said. "I wouldn't have left without her."
The two girls were frequently in each other's company, paired by Fowler and often pitted against each other. Still, in a friendship they found solace.
When Holli F. escaped, she said she was emaciated from an eating disorder, scarred and suffering from post-traumatic stress.
"He worked hard to make me hate myself. He took control of a teenager's body and mind and tried to make her a slave. I refused to eat," she said in her victim impact statement. "He left me with physical scars and brandings that I have to laser off. He would beat me and tell me I deserved it, that I did this to myself. Now it is him who deserves this."
Both Holli F. and her therapist reached out to the sheriff's department multiple times regarding Fowler, according to Holli F. The same story brought up by KD was once again bounced around between investigators.
"When Deputy McCracken received the report, he called me the same day and asked for an interview," Holli F. said. "He told me 'I can't believe that no one talked to you before now.'"
Following Fowler's arrest, he tried to persuade the judge that he was mentally unfit to stand trial, so mental competency hearing was scheduled. It was an elaborate ruse, Holli F. believes.
"He always said that he was smarter than law enforcement, he'd been haunt acting since he was a teenager," she said. "He always said, if he got caught he would act crazy and he would get out of it. Not this time."
AJ: "I may never forgive the evil I saw within your soul."
"The time I spent with Morgan has defined me more than any other influence of my life," AJ read aloud in her victim impact statement. "I should have been learning how to drive or applying myself at school, but he was forming me to his perfect image."
AJ was a 16-year-old high school student in Lake Elsinore interested in theater makeup and acting. She met Fowler at a barbecue before the annual build-out of the Field Of Screams haunt. He was 10 years her senior.
"Many of the girls and boys volunteering there looked up to him," she said. "I mistook his special attention as a genuine care for me."
Coaxing and coercing, Fowler's attention toward her quickly changed when their relationship turned sexually violent.
"He skillfully manipulated me to believe that this is what love feels like. Love is when he is satisfied and I am broken. He made me believe that I deserved the pain and horrors I was facing," she said. AJ left high school. Fowler's incessant needs made it impossible to follow through with anything normal: acting in school plays, going to prom, or attending class.
"I was acting in a school musical and he would text me evil things and demand pictures," she said. "There was no room to have personal freedom."
She was there when he built his own "full touch" maze at his home in Lake Elsinore in 2017 after Fowler was fired from Field of Screams the year before due to illicit behavior.
"He curated an environment of participating adults, enabling parents and vulnerable, groomed victims," AJ told the courtroom. "When we showed up to haunts together, everyone knew what he did, but nobody asked questions. There was no choice but to suffer in silence and confusion."
AJ said she was contemplating suicide when she left him. "I had to do the actual leaving myself," she said.
Suffering from an eating disorder, Holli F. helped her into an in-residence facility. "Even after years of therapy, I have the scars."
She was 19 when law enforcement contacted her about Fowler.
"I had to explain the worst memories of my life over the phone, email pictures to authorities and face the reality of being a victim," she said.
Building the case to bring down a monster
During the investigation into Fowler, many more victims came forward. Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigators gathered steam in the case, which grew after victims began social networking in a Facebook group. It bolstered their courage as they offered each other support in their healing journey, victims say.
"It's traumatizing and demeaning to explain in graphic detail what you experienced and what you have gone through," Holli F. said. "For victims like me, that experienced the back and forth, they blamed themselves."
Ultimately, 18 victims agreed to file charges against Fowler. Court records show that detectives serving a search warrant at Fowler's home found evidence that corroborated the victim's allegations, including weapons and a sex dungeon.
In a phone interview, Deputy Andrew McCracken discussed what he learned in talking with the victims and working on the team to bring Fowler to justice.
"(Fowler) was a skillful manipulator of all, and a deviant predator who played on young adolescents' weaknesses," McCracken said. "This is by far the worst case I've ever seen."
Now caged, Fowler's victims can live without fear
Fowler's victims are now moving on with their lives, knowing he can no longer hurt them.
KD is studying at an arts college in a coastal town and hopes to become a teacher.
"I have memories of him everywhere," KD said. "Soon, I'll be able to move on."
Similarly, AJ is determining what to do next with her life. She still battles with the memories and continues to heal the wounds left by Fowler, she explained. A longtime worker at a crystals shop, she now looks to finish her GED and is exploring the art of jewelry making.
Holli F. is working toward her bachelor's degree in psychology. She hopes to graduate in the coming months and wants to help others through trauma.
"It's okay to blame yourself, and it's okay that you need time. I did not give up hope. You just have to fight and you eventually get there," she said. "Thank God. It's finally over."
Riverside County District Attorney's Office spokesperson John Hall released a statement about the Fowler case.
"The sentence of 215 years four months to life ensures that this serial sexual predator can never again prey upon or victimize anyone," Hall wrote. "We hope that the conclusion of the case can bring some closure to the many victims. We want to thank the Riverside County sheriff's Lake Elsinore station for the investigation that led to the arrest and now sentencing in this case."
Due to California's current laws, Fowler will be up for parole when he turns 65 years old. "That doesn't mean that he'll be freed," Hall said.
"When he is (up for parole) I will be there to make sure the parole board knows everything Morgan did," Holli F. said after the sentencing. "I will never forget."
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